Monday, October 24, 2011

Countdown to marathon... countdown to pecan pie.

So, in logging into the blog I accidentally looked at Space Ghost's countdown, and then I had a little mini panic attack that Catface Meowmers helpfully and immediately talked me down from.

I'm looking forward to this weekend's 22 miler. I mean, obviously I'm nervous about it but not really all that nervous. I'm doing well enough on my long runs and this is really the final test. I did an accidental 16 on Saturday (meant to do 15, long story) without any gels, just half a little bottle of Gatorade at both stops, and that went well, and I'm going to Gu Up on Saturday. So it'll all be good. And I'll throw myself a couch party afterward. Everyone is invited so long as I don't have to get up to let you in the door.

This week is all about organizing and cleaning my room without letting the project absorb me and cause me to neglect schoolwork. I think by Friday I'll have gotten it all to the point of being able to set up the trainer in the corner.

Yes, I know that my room is very tiny, and putting a bike on a trainer in it will make it even smaller, but winter means not being able to ride a road bike all the time, and my legs really do feel much better if I can spin them round and round. I went to the gym on Sunday and was unspeakably annoyed by all the other people there and I had to stop working out before I was done because of the time limit. I wanted to bike for the duration of the movie Suckerpunch, and to do so I had to pause, jump off one bike, walk upstairs to a different room and pretend like I hadn't been working out already.

Oh, and then a girl came and sat next to me with speakers on her mp3 player. Not headphones. Speakers. Because clearly I needed to partake in her music, too.

Suckerpunch, by the way, was rather disappointing to me. I was excited about seeing it for so long, never got around to seeing it and felt like a failure for that, and turns out it wasn't that good. It was visually stunning with a fantastic soundtrack but the plot was too layered - too many levels of narrative so that you couldn't ever just watch because you had to keep thinking, "Okay, the metaphor here is ___ so in that other world ___ is happening which means ___." So finally I just had to give up and be like, "Oh, look, a dragon. Pretty."

Whatever. I got my workout in, did not kill the Music Sharer, and then went and watched my Pirates win the first hockey game I've seen them win in a while.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Friends Are Azoles

I was going to post a thing today. It was going to be about running, and food, and a little bit about music but not much, and also about Scrabble.

But then I got distracted by Palahniuk's new book (Damned) and by making coffee and generally bumming around my morning routine so that now instead of telling you all about my 20-miler on Saturday, and the foods I've been eating while trying to quit cereal, and about how I've managed to become so frustrated with a casual, fun word game I'm playing with friends that I've decided that all my friends are cheating liars and that this is how Captain Hook decided he wanted to sink his hook into Pan because it isn't fair that Pan can fly and never ages and meanwhile it's getting harder to climb the rigging with every birthday.

I will, however, still post a song for you. I saw Haley Dreis when she opened for Jay Clifford at Ziggy's - Jay produced her new album, which I of course bought because it was $5 and she was a pretty girl in cowboy who just wanted people to help her afford to eat. And I'm shocked, honestly, because this album is good, and has quickly entered into heavy rotation on my iPod.

She doesn't have my favorite song posted on her YouTube page, but you know how I feel about covers, and also how I feel about Beyonce's Single Ladies. So here's this:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Greetings from Lab Machine 100

I'm in the SuperLab here on campus, with a few minutes until I have to migrate over to the MHRA to go to class, so naturally I decided that I was going to use the time to tell the internet about my life.

My legs are sore.

That's my life.

Okay, so there's more to it than that. My legs are sore from running. Maybe running a bit too much. I had planned to run 10 miles with The Videostore Employee Who Doesn't Watch Movies on Tuesday, and totally forgot when I suggested the route that part of the Greenway is closed for repaving. So we had to detour on the fly, and of course wound up overrunning. By almost two miles.

The funny thing is, before marathon training started, I would have considered 12 miles a "long run" for the week. But my idea of distance is so skewed that it felt like a normal weekly run, except that it was in the pouring rain and my hips hurt a bit from ice skating the day before.

I won't really know until I hit the pavement this afternoon, but I'm thinking I might shave a mile or so off of today's run, and then stay in my pajamas until at least 3pm tomorrow - my archaeology professor is going out of town, and she's letting us watch the video on Egypt from our houses instead of making us come to campus and watch it together. Because she loves us and wants us to be happy.

So I'm going to keep in the true spirit of Sacred Ass-Sitting Day, and sit. On my ass.

This Saturday is my first 20 mile run ever. I'm excited. And in my excitement, I need to remember to go to the running store and buy a couple of gels of whatever brand tickles my fancy. I'm considering getting one with caffeine for the end of the run, just so I know how my body responds to caffeinated gels.

McDad and The One With No Feelings have volunteered to go with me to Richmond - even though they're not in marathon form - and pace me to finishing. I know I can definitely finish under 4 hours. That's really my only goal. It's two goals but also one. Anyways. It makes me feel a lot better, knowing that I won't be running alone (and therefore be super nervous and run way too fast from the start and then DNF).

The only mantra now is: DNFing is not an option.

Today I'm turning in Like Water For An Octopus, which is a short story I wrote that I'm actually titling The Drinking And The Dry, because Like Water For An Octopus is a joke that's not even really all that funny, but it stuck and now I can't stop calling it that.

I'm a little nervous about turning it in because it's an experiment on several fronts and I don't know how I really want the feedback to turn out. I tried to write a more 'readable' story. People in class are getting burned out and if they don't want to put in the time, I didn't want to give them a story that would make them. There's deeper readings and themes there, but they can just skim if they want to. I'm not responsible for the expansion of their reading comprehension skills. They're in college.

It was surprisingly easy to get The Little Monster to do The Rolex Sweep. Michael Jackson may not be able to dance like you, Skepta, but a 22 month old can.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Confession (And Also An Unrelated Product Endorsement)

I'm addicted to breakfast cereal.

I once would have said that I just really loved breakfast cereal, but I think I'm past that now. I crave it. I justify my wanting of it. I can eat three or four bowls of the stuff a day. And while it's not really BAD for me in itself, the kind of consumption I do... well, I don't think it's healthy that so many of my carbs/calories come from basically the most processed food you can buy.

So I've given it up.

And come to the dramatic realization that I have to cold-turkey, like a drug addict. Because I can't just eat one bowl of cereal. The box is there, in the kitchen, and it's like 120 calories a bowl and it's really easy to talk myself into just one more bowl.

So as of yesterday, I'm cereal free. And if I fall of the wagon on this, I'm going to go ahead and declare myself Entirely Devoid Of Willpower and A Failure. (I have to draw such dire lines because otherwise I'll let myself fail.)

I Googled the 12 Steps and while I've clearly surpassed the first one (I Admit That I Have A Half-A-Family-Size-Box-A-Day Problem), the second step is a stumbling block. I do not thus far admit that Only God Can Save Me From The Honey Buzzers.

I think probably fresh fruit and veggies can save me from the honey buzzers. And water. And lots and lots of hot tea whenever I want it.

But the reason I'm blogging about this is simple: I'm going to be cutting a lot out of my diet very quickly. This is the kind of stuff that research suggests we can actually become physically addicted to, so I'll probably be really grumpy, and have a headache, and maybe say things about your mother being an elderberry sniffing hamster. I'm sorry. I have a problem.


Nobody knows this, but I've been on the quest for the perfect protein bar for years. It's been a constant internal struggle between 'the lowest calorie/highest protein content ratio' and the 'I'm pretty sure all these chemicals are going to kill me.'

Basically, for a while I was swapping back and forth between Clif Builder (270kcal, 20g protein, and mostly organic stuff) and Pure Protein (180kcal, 20g protein, and mostly chemical stuff) and I wasn't really happy with either option but there you go.

And then I found Quest Protein Bars. And I'm really stoked. The apple pie flavor (my favorite) is 170kcal, 20g protein, and... well, allow me to illustrate the point:

The above picture is of two bar ingredient labels. The top one is a Quest bar (the mixed berry, which I don't like as much but is acceptable). The bottom one is a Lean Muscle Bar. It has more calories, less protein, and do you see those chemicals?

The Quest Bar labels are like, "Ingredients: Actual Fruit To Make Fruit Flavors."

I love them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In honor of National Coming Out Day, I reminded my best friend I was gay.

And in honor of National Coming Out Day, she pretended to be shocked and unsure about whether or not we could remain friends.

In all seriousness, though, I find the idea a little bit silly. Coming Out is this big personal decision, right? And if you do it just because it's an arbitrarily assigned National Day, then that cheapens it. I mean, there's National Donut Day.

I guess all the publicity is good. But then it's bad, too. Because I've come to the somewhat controversial notion that if everyone would stop making such a big angry deal about it, it would be a lot easier to bring about real change. When you're angry and confrontational, the people you're confronting aren't going to like you and aren't going to want to help you out.

What I'm saying is, we need more of this:

Did you see the gay couples?
Did you see how they were all mixed in with the straight couples all willy-nilly?
Like they were all just people?

That's what I'm trying to say.

One of the reasons I didn't come out for a long time what that I saw what coming out did to those few gay people I knew in high school: it made them The Gay One. "You know Matt?" "Who?" "You know, the gay guy." "Oh, yeah, the gay guy."

And there's a lot more to being a person than just being gay or straight. I mean, you don't define someone by their heterosexuality, ever. It's one of the reasons I'm not really involved in PRIDE or whatever they call it on campus these days - I'm turned off by the people - yes, the gay people - who cheerfully make being gay everything their life is about. They only have gay friends, they only go to gay events, they only shop in LGBTQ-friendly stores... if a straight person only has straight friends, you wonder if they're homophobic, but a lot of the gay people I've met (granted, I'm mostly talking about college-age kids here, and there's a lot of maturing that happens) would resent the accusation that they're heterophobic.

So, yay for telling people it's okay to be gay.

Because it is.

But it should be just as ok as being straight. Not more, not less, just the same.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thought of the Day (For Me At Least)

"For decades, Americans have too often seen cycling as a kind of macho extreme sport, which has actually done a lot to damage the cause of winning acceptance for biking as a legitimate form of transportation. If your association with bikes is guys in spandex narrowly missing you on the weekends or YouTube videos of kids flying over ramps on their clown-size bikes, you’re likely to think that bikes are for only the athletic and the risk-prone. Manufacturers in the United States have tended to make bikes that look like the two-wheeled equivalent of Hummers, with fat tires and stocky frames necessitating a hunched-over riding position that is downright unsafe for urban biking and commuting. But that’s been changing..."
(-David Byrne, NYTimes)

This is truer than my knee-jerk reaction against rich activists wanted me to believe. When I hurt my ankle and started cycling to keep in shape, one of the things people (non-cyclists) said to me was, "Just please god no spandex."

And while, yes, I did eventually don some spandex (see exhibit A, below), that's only for road cycling, which is a totally thing than what I spend most of my saddle time doing, which is riding my bike instead of driving.

This is me looking regrettably dumb in my spandex at the Tour to Tanglewood.

I think something happened to biking in the 90s. Because if you look at used bikes - which I do, a lot - there are practically zero road bikes from the 90s out there. It's all mountain bikes like The Bruiser, who is from the 90s, or stupid little BMX bikes that are so utterly unsuitable for commuting that let's just say it doesn't surprise me that the people I see riding them around town aren't wearing helmets.

I didn't have any access to bikes during that decade beyond the hot pink mountain bike Santa gave me even though I specifically begged for any color other than pink. So I wasn't all that keen on it and I never really rode as a hobby. Plus we lived in a cul-de-sac at the bottom of a really, really steep hill and... you know, I don't have to justify my latecoming cycling. I was inactive as a kid in general so it shouldn't surprise anyone that the amount I knew about bikes was that Santa didn't want me to be happy.

But I think the hipsters and the economy are actually working together to turn things around. I know that sometimes it's hard to find a place to lock up my bike on campus and I'm considering going around with a camera and making a bike-of-the-week feature on this blog because there are some really beautiful road bikes being used.

And while I wish that increased use of bikes as transportation went hand-in-hand with increased use of helmets as brain protection, my mom always told me to fight one battle at a time. And focus on the positives. And if you don't appreciate what Santa brings you, you might get coal next time.